The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

I blew through the second book in the Bridgerton series. They’re definitely not quality literature, but they’re easy to read and the stories are very enjoyable.

I’m sure whoever writes the show has read the books and has written the characters to match their personalities exactly. Knowing who plays Anthony in the show and imagining Kate as Simone Ashley made it fun.

It’s interesting to me how they’ve diversified the cast in the show, but how it still works. I’ve seen Simone Ashley in Sex Education and based on that I think she’s going to be perfect in this role.

Part of me didn’t expect to love Anthony and Kate’ s story as much as I loved Daphne and Simon’s. Anthony wasn’t exactly my favorite character in the show, so maybe that played a role in it, but reading his story definitely made me understand the man better.

There really isn’t much to say about the book. It was a good love story. It was interesting how they came together and the chemistry was amazing once again. I’m sure that’ll be a theme throughout the rest of them as well. Violet approves of love matches after all, so all of her children must find love, right?

I’m sure I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the third installment. I’m already half way through it as I type this.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I really enjoyed this book. I watched the Hulu adaptation probably about a year ago and really loved it, so I’ve had this book on my list to read for awhile.

The show did a really good job adapting the story for the screen. There were definitely a few changes made, but I don’t think they messed with the story much at all. I did think it was interesting that the author never specifically mentioned Mia and Pearl’s races, yet the show made the decision to make them African American. It’s interesting to me that they did this because I feel like it hinders where the story could have gone.

***MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD***

Something that was really interesting in the book was how Izzy felt that Mia could have been a better mother to her than Elena. She loves spending time with Mia, she listens to the things that Mia teaches her, she even at one point says that she fantasizes that Mia is her mother.

Honestly because I watched the show first I pictured Mia and Pearl as being African American, so reading this was the first time that I realized that oh, if she thinks she looks enough like Mia to possibly be her daughter than that means that Mia must be white.

I’m sure that race was changed in the show to draw even larger differences between Mia and Elena. I thought Kerry Washington was perfect in the show, so I wouldn’t change it, but when adaptations do this I feel like we need to question the change and why it was made. Wouldn’t it have been more shocking to Elena that a woman who looked like her chose this lifestyle? Did we really need to make a black woman this sort of nomad who’s perceived by Elena as being unstable with the way she lives her life? The book already deals with elements of race, so did it need this added layer of racism?

It’s definitely interesting to think about and adds more to the discussion when reading the book, but I can’t help but wonder if doing this was really necessary to the story.

Also, I feel like it really hinders them from creating a second season of the show. At the end of the book, Izzy is headed to Mia’s parents’ house. She knows everything about Pearl and Mia’s brother and her parents from the file her mother kept and she’s looking for Mia by going to her parents.

If I was a writer for the show and wanted to create another season, I could definitely see a situation unfolding where Izzy (who’s around the same age as Pearl) tells Mia’s parents that she’s the baby. It would definitely create a conflict and force all of the characters to come together again, but since they have different races this wouldn’t be something that they can do now.

Maybe they have other ideas, and I don’t think the show has been renewed yet, but I do wonder if this was part of the conversation. Anyone else think the same?

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

Like almost every other book I read, I watched this movie first. I thought that the movie was good, the actors played their roles really well, and the story was interesting. However, I felt that there was probably way more to this story than what they were portraying. Boy, was I right.

My aunt and I were talking about the movie and how we both wanted to read the book. She actually surprised me by sending a copy to me in the mail (special shout-out to Aunt Angie!).

***MAJOR MOVIE AND BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD***

I was surprised when I started reading that the book wasn’t set up like the movie. It didn’t start in the present with a major conflict that the main character was dealing with, it just started from the beginning of J.D.’s life.

It threw me off at first, but I liked it way better. Starting from the beginning really allowed us to see everything through J.D.’s eyes. We got all the background on his family in Kentucky, his Mamaw and Papaw’s move to Ohio and everything that led up to his childhood. It really helped to set the scene and give the reader the sense of hope for a better future by getting out of Kentucky.

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you know that his grandparents getting out of Kentucky wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They never lost their “hillbilly” side and had very strong and aggressive personalities. It made his mothers life very difficult, which in turn made J.D.’s life difficult.

This sort of rut that they were stuck in is something that I think needs to be talked about more. I don’t think people realize it, but when you grow up in circumstances where you’re told this is all you’ll ever amount to and this is what you should expect from life, it’s really hard to get out of that. J.D.’s mom was smart and did well in school, but as he mentions ended up pregnant and divorced before she was even out of her teens. She was just a product of her environment and once she was caught up in it, she didn’t find her way out.

J.D. was on that path as well because he was also stuck in that environment. It wasn’t until he took control of his life and moved in permanently with his Mamaw that his life started to change for the better. Through a series of choices that he made, without any real goals, he became the exception to the rule. He made it to Yale. He made it out of poverty. He was able to improve his life and recognize that he wasn’t the norm for people who grew up the same way.

He also recognized that he didn’t do this on his own. He needed help and he needed people to help him figure out how to get that help. It was actually shocking to me as well when he realized that he could spend less going to Yale than he did going to a local college. It makes sense when you think about it, because there’s plenty of financial aid for people who need it when they go to college, and of course ivy-league schools have lots of money to give. It made really wonder how many people haven’t even tried because they didn’t think they could afford it. How many people were told that they couldn’t accomplish going to a better school because they would end up with too much debt?

Since I watched the movie first, I was shocked to find out that the entire conflict in the movie wasn’t even mentioned in the book. J.D. wasn’t interrupted during his dinner to find out his mother had overdosed and had to drive all night to make it to the hospital. He didn’t take her to a rehab where he had to pay with multiple credit cards. He didn’t catch her trying to use at a dirty motel.

There were mentions of similar situations, but nothing so dramatic as what they portrayed in the movie. It actually made the movie feel cheap and like a disservice to J.D. real, true story. They used his family’s problems to create a dramatic situation that took away from his accomplishment. They made it about Amy Adams, when it should’ve just been about how he got away from her.

It’s not often that I’m disappointed in movie adaptations, but this one is pretty bad in my opinion.

Everything he wrote about was real and interesting. It’s eye-opening and inspiring to see how someone from a totally different background can accomplish more than they ever thought was possible. It really does show that opportunity is out there, but it’s not as accessible as we think.

This was truly a great book and great story. I really hope that everyone who watched the movie takes the time to read the book.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I loved this book.

The Hulu show was so good, and if you haven’t seen it I HIGHLY recommend it. I knew immediately that I’d have to read the book.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but I really don’t think any form of entertainment has ever really shown the emotions between two people who are so obviously meant to be together but can’t because of situations in their lives and bad timing.

It seems like Connell and Marianne just can’t catch a break. One of them is either in a relationship with someone else when the other is ready or just has too much pride to admit that they’re actually both madly in love with each other. Their relationship is so complicated, but also just kind of works in a way. It’s so frustrating to see them fail over and over again because they can’t communicate.

I feel like this story really does so well because everyone can relate to a situation that was ruined because of miscommunication or just no communication at all. I know I’ve definitely been there.

One thing I do want to say is that at some points this was really hard to read. I honestly didn’t think it’d take me so long, but some parts just made me so sad I felt like I needed to put the book down and take a break for a little.

Definitely an emotional rollercoaster, but highly recommended.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I really don’t know why, but it took me forever to get through this book. I think it may have been because it was so similar to the show that it wasn’t really interesting to me, or didn’t really add anything to the story enough for me to stay interested. Honestly though, that’s a compliment to the show because it means they did really well with the details!

I will say, the story did get a lot more interesting once we got to the murders and what Grace did remember. I did also like that we got to see Dr. Jordan meeting with more people that knew Grace and that he went to the house where the murders took place.

I expected the hypnotism to be more exciting in the book, but I guess it can’t be too sensational if it’s supposed to be believable. The acting in the show was perfect and made this scene so creepy!

One thing I really didn’t like was how both Jeremiah and Dr. Jordan kind of fled after the hypnotism. It seemed like both of them were trying to be helpful and then it was like they both just gave up. I really thought that they would help her get out sooner, but I guess since this is fiction based on a true story we wouldn’t be able to have her get out of the penitentiary earlier than she actually did.

It was also disappointing that Dr. Jordan’s memory was affected in the war, resulting in him being no help to Grace whatsoever. Honestly it made his whole role in the story pretty pointless. I’m not sure how much of this is historically accurate, but if this is what really happened then that really sucks.

Although I’m not sure myself whether Grace was innocent or if she was suffering from some sort of mental/post-traumatic stress disorder, I am glad that she was pardoned and was able to live the rest of her life with some sort of freedom. She definitely was very unlucky in life, so it was nice that she sort of had a happy ending. Not sure that I wanted her to end up with Jamie, but honestly it could’ve been way worse.

I hope she did have a happy ending. It would be nice to know what really happened.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Wow, just wow. I just finished reading The Stranger and I felt like I immediately needed to put down my thoughts.

What a story. Seriously. There were little things at first that I thought were kind of lazy writing. I won’t spoil it, but the names of the websites that the stranger was getting their information from just seemed too obvious for me. I actually think I rolled my eyes when Adam found out the web address for the website his wife used.

Once I got past that though, the story was so could. I honestly felt like I couldn’t put it down. Each chapter ended so well that I needed to keep reading. It had so many unexpected twists and turns. I loved it. It kind of reminded me of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Not the story exactly, but the mystery and how it was solved. I wonder if Harlan Coben is a fan.

The ending was good, but wasn’t what I wanted. I guess I always kind of want happy endings, but we don’t always get what we want. I really can’t wait to watch the show on Netflix. I’ve heard that it’s British, which is interesting. I wonder why they made that change.

Anyway…I absolutely loved this. Has Harlan Coben written anything else? I may need to check him out.

Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about this, but  I do the majority of my reading on a Kindle. I’m sure that’s pretty common now, so it’s not something that really needs to be talked about. I’ve always been a reader though, so I do kind of love the feeling of flipping through pages and having an actual book in your hands.

Every so often, I’ll take trips to the bookstore with my family members and search for something new to read. Right before we were issued stay-at-home orders, my mom and I went to Books A Million just on a whim one day. I actually have a really hard time finding books at bookstores because I want to walk through the entire store and check out everything before I make a decision. There was a section for books that have been made into tv shows and movies that I kept coming back to, so eventually I made two purchases there.

Modern Love stuck out to me. I feel like I’ve hinted at this a few times in past posts, but I’ve had this “thing” with a person for almost 3 years now that’s been very hot and cold. I think it’s safe to say it’s over for good now, but it was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few years.

I’m not going to share all the details here, but what stuck out to me the most about this book was that it was about unconventional love stories. My story with this person didn’t make sense to anyone else that knew the details and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt like (at least on my part) it was real, pure love. Now, enough about me…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the stories about the relationships weren’t just couples. I loved how different they all were. The stories made me teary-eyed, they made me laugh, they made me smile. Above everything, I felt like each story touched me in a different way. I felt like each story was important to be reading, even if I couldn’t relate.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. I actually already passed it on to my mom (great thing about having an actual book, right?). Who knows if she’ll actually read it, but I hope she does.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

If anyone else has read the After series, they’ll completely understand why I chose to read Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice next. Kind of crazy how one author’s words can inspire you so much that you feel the need to read other works they mentioned just so that you can understand their characters better, isn’t it?

I’m not super familiar to Jane Austen’s work to be honest. I remember reading Emma in high school, but it was for an assignment and for some reason anytime I’ve been assigned to read it I just don’t do well with retaining any of it. Probably some psychology we could get into there, but this isn’t the place for that.

I also did read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I think that and the original novel really should be kept separate from each other. I don’t remember it that well, but as far as I’m concerned they tell very different stories.

When I started reading Pride and Prejudice, I have to say, I was really bored. The first half of the book was really uninteresting to me and honestly I was struggling to get through it without falling asleep. Darcy was a jerk, Elizabeth hated him.

When he confessed his feelings for her it felt really out of place. I understand that he had pride, so he felt that anyone would be honored to receive a proposal from him, but what really made him think she would accept? Maybe he thought she was mean to him because she liked him? It was just strange to me.

However, once she told him off and he wrote her the letter I did start to feel more connection to the story. They misunderstood each other and had to adjust their ways of thinking to come back together at the end. It was cool to see the ways that they both changed.

I did really enjoy the second half of the book. Seeing Darcy redeem himself with Elizabeth and the ways that he was willing to change the way he was and help her out behind the scenes because he loved her was actually kind of touching. Elizabeth ended up with Darcy because she respected him and because he respected her. I can definitely see why so many people love this story.

My grandmother apparently loved the adaptation with Colin Firth, so I may need to check that out eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because it’s free on Comcast right now.

After We Collided by Anna Todd

When I read through a book really quickly sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out what exactly I want to say about it. I think it’s safe to say that the After series has me hooked.

At first I was a little put off by the perspective changes, but it was kind of nice to see things from Hardin’s point of view. I always think back to this creative writing class that I had in college where the professor told us that switching the narrator is lazy writing, but I think sometimes it can be done really well and add to the story.

The relationship between Tessa and Hardin in this book was definitely a roller coaster ride. They have so many highs and lows, it’s hard to keep up with. It’s exactly what I was expecting to happen when I finished the first book, and I plan on reading the others, but I really hope it’s not the same thing over and over again. I want to see these characters grow and stop being so toxic to each other.

I kind of wish that Anna Todd would have built more into Zed being a bad guy. I feel like until he took Hardin’s phone to text Tessa I really didn’t believe that Hardin was telling the truth about Zed not having good intentions. I wish there was some foreshadowing to this. Maybe there was and I just missed it?

I really am curious to see what could possibly happen in the next two books. I’ve seen that the fifth book takes place before everything, so that should be interesting to read.

I’m sure I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the third book.

After by Anna Todd

I’m really not sure where to begin with this one. I guess I’ll start with a little explanation.

My mom told me a few months ago that she had watched a movie called After on Netflix and she thought I would like it. Honestly it didn’t sound that great from the description, but after spending an hour trying to find something to watch I decided to give it a shot.

Honestly I was surprised at how much I actually liked the movie. I guess I think that since I’m an adult I won’t like these teen love stories anymore, but really I should just admit to myself that they get me every time.

Obviously, I was excited when I found out that it was originally a book series and that there were multiple books in the series. UNTIL I stumbled across the Wikipedia page where I found out that this was originally written as Harry Styles fan-fiction.

I will say, I’m a big Harry Styles fan and definitely had a crush on him when he was in One Direction. I’m just not really usually impressed by fan-fiction and honestly would never have put two and two together that Hardin Scott was modeled after Harry Styles.

Even after reading the book, it’s hard for me to understand why Anna Todd would turn Harry Styles into this horrible, manipulative character. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that the guy who wears flowery suits would act this way towards a woman that he truly loves? I definitely had to disassociate my idea of Harry Styles from the character of Hardin Scott when reading this book.

That being said, I actually really enjoyed reading it. Hardin is horrible and Tessa definitely shouldn’t have stayed with him this long. He’s crazy manipulative and controlling, and the way he is with her is borderline abuse, but I found myself unable to put this book down. Honestly Tessa isn’t much better. They both overreact whenever they argue and even though she tries to see things from his point of view, she still seems to be unwilling to change for the relationship even though she asks him multiple times to change for her.

This really isn’t some great work of literature, but it is entertaining. I’m definitely going to read the next book. Since there are 5 of them, I’m assuming she forgives Hardin again and takes him back. I’m sure they’ll fight more and break up about a million more times, but I do kind of need to know what comes next.

So even though I’m conflicted about the inspiration for the story, I have to say Anna Todd does really know how to keep someone interested with her writing. Maybe it’s sort of like a car crash you can’t look away from? Anyone else feel this way reading it?